When you’re pushing your body to the limit on a regular basis, nutrition becomes an increasingly important component in your overall training. The right fuel determines how hard, how long and how effective your training will be, not to mention how fast you’ll recover. There are many misconceptions about diet and nutrition and it’s easy to get caught up in the marketing and hype around new fads and food trends. One thing is undisputed and that is each person is different. When you have a specific goal or training outcome that you’re working towards these differences can become even more pronounced. To clear up some of the confusion we’ve explored some of the common mistakes and misconceptions that we often see get in the way of an athlete’s progress:
How much protein is enough? Am I eating too much, not enough? When should I eat it? What’s the right kind of protein? Should I use a supplement. Protein is a really important macronutrient for athletes and there are many question and a lot of conflicting information. A standard rule of thumb for protein is athletes should consume. The daily minimum recommended by the National Institutes of Health is 0.36 grams per pound for a sedentary person. This averages out to 56g/day for the average sedentary man and 46g/day for the average sedentary woman. This is the bare minimum and by far, not sufficient for the even the slightest active person. For example, a 30yr old man, average height and weight, with a desk job and a “lightly active” activity level should be taking in anywhere from 147g – 185/g of protein per day depending on the goal (Weight loss or muscle gain). A standard rule of thumb for protein intake and athletes is .75g – .83/g of protein per pound of bodyweight for endurance and strength training. Great sources of protein are peas, lentils, spinach, farro, and lean meats (chicken, pork, and fish). Keep it lean, grass-fed, ideally organic and make sure you’re eating some after you train, to help with muscle recovery.
2. Pre-Training vs. Recovery Meals
Depending on your goals, make sure you are eating and drinking the right amounts before and after your workouts. Water is especially important for any goals so make sure you are drinking enough. Keep it simple and add PowerUp and PowerDown to your routine and you’ll have covered off the majority of the nutrients you need. Add a protein-rich meal post workout with some carbs and a small amount of healthy fat and you’ll be ready for tomorrow’s training! A great example would be grass-fed organic chicken, avocado, peas, and farro.
3. Supplements vs. Real food
Supplements are just that, they are to supplement your nutritional needs. For athletes it’s important to try and get the majority of calories and nutrients from real food, supplements ideally are not being used as meal replacements on a regular basis. Nothing beats real, natural food but if you’re highly reliant on supplements, and they seem to work well for you, then make sure they’re high quality, and naturally based.
4. Hydration and Sodium
Well hydrated athletes can perform at a higher intensity for longer, so it’s extremely important to make sure you’re well hydrated before, during and after training. Thirst is a good natural indicator of dehydration but it’s best to avoid it by staying well hydrated. One way to understand how much fluid you need to recover after training is to weigh yourself before and after a training session. The difference in weight is a good indicator of how much fluid you’ve lost and need to replenish. A pound of lost water weight should be replenish with between 16-24 ounces of fluids. In warmer climates you may also need to compensate and include salty / sodium rich foods prior to training. A crucial ingredient in PowerUp is sodium which allows your body to hold more fluid so you’re less likely to get dehydrated while training.